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Arson case against Lockport water chief headed for County Court

LOCKPORT – A pre-indictment plea bargain may be worked out for Dale W. Lawson Jr., the chief of the city of Lockport’s water distribution system, who allegedly set his back porch on fire during an argument with his wife April 18.

Monday, Lawson waived his right to a preliminary hearing in Lockport City Court, meaning the next stop for his case is Niagara County Court. At a previous City Court appearance last week, defense attorney Michael H. White said he hoped to arrange a plea that would make Lawson eligible for participation in a court-supervised treatment program.

Lawson, 53, allegedly was intoxicated when he poured gasoline on his porch and lighted it. Damage was minor and there were no injuries, but police charged Lawson with second-degree arson, a Class B felony with a maximum 25-year prison term.

Lawson was placed on administrative leave by Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey April 20. He will continue to draw his $54,530-a-year salary until May 19; then the leave becomes unpaid.